Kite surfing and sketching

Yesterday I walked along Sunderland’s excellent sandy beach from Roker to Seaburn, and back. I paused for a while to watch the kite surfers doing their acrobatics out to sea.

Kite surfing on Seaburn beach

When I got to the cliffs at the start of Whitburn, I bought a cup of coffee from a kiosk by the car park and found a solitary bench, looking out to sea. Perhaps I should say that the objective of this walk was to make some progress in terms of my phobia for sketching in public. I sat down and took out my small sketchbook from my backpack, along with a spectacle case in which I keep a couple of pencils, a sharpener, a putty eraser, and a small plastic food bag in which to collect the wood and pencil-lead shavings. The blank page stared up at me. In the past, when I have sat still looking at a blank ruled page in a notepad, the problem has been writers block in relation to a fiction project. Here, the problem was anxiety and a lack of confidence in my ability to draw.

Looking at the issue analytically, I must be afraid that I will be subjected to ridicule from a passer-by who casually peers over my shoulder. My chosen bench, on this occasion, was not ideally situated since it did not back up against a wall or a rock; a willful dog-walker could deviate from the foot path in front of me and sneak around behind! With considerable courage and self-control, I hesitantly put pencil to paper and drew a line across the page to represent the horizon. Nothing bad happened. I took a swig of coffee and placed the light house on Roker pier in position. A pretty young woman being taken for a walk by a dog straining at its leash smiled at me as she flitted past, left arm outstretched, body inclined about 15 degrees from the vertical in the direction of the hound. An elderly couple shuffled past with a moderate spring in their step and the gentleman, for that is what he undoubtedly was, said “Hello! Sorry to spoil your view”. I very nearly jumped up and shook the dear man’s hand. Gradually, I settled into the sketch. It did not turn out well from an artistic point of view but that was beside the point. I can do some research into how best to draw the sea from a distance and then return to the bench for a second attempt another day. The point was that I had stayed and sketched; I had not fled in panic.

So, on the whole, the experiment proved to be a success. Admittedly, I chose a time to sketch when there were few youths peddling dirt bikes along the cliff path but plenty of walkers were out and about and most of them acknowledged me, without comment and certainly passed no word of criticism within earshot. Whether I can take this forward over the next few months remains to be seen. Speak to you later, my dear blogophiles.

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One Response to “Kite surfing and sketching”

  1. Francesca Albini Says:

    Well done. I know exactly how you feel. I carry my sketchbook with me all the time and I hardly ever have the courage to take it out. I feel like everybody is looking at me. Of course, it’s not true, and it’s just a matter of persisting and becoming comfortable with it.

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